From the moment our earliest ancestors began to chip away at stones to make rudimentary tools, life as we now know it began to take shape. Since then, the options for transporting children have evolved and changed, and continue to do so to this day.
Where it all began
Primitive man’s earliest tools spurred a series of innovations, including the first slings for carrying newborn babies. These slings, crafted out of animal skins and viscera, not only allowed the baby to be carried safely, but also served to strengthen the mother-child bond. According to archaeologist and anthropologist Timothy Taylor, they also supported brain development outside of the womb.
Developments in the Middle Ages
The mother-child bond was highly revered in the early Middle Ages. Babies were breastfed, and mothers continued to wear them in carriers made of cloth or wood, or in a small cradles balanced on their heads. But this close relationship between mother and child began to change towards the end of the Middle Ages.
Moving away from our natural roots
Co-sleeping was gradually abolished in the early 1700s, and babies began to sleep in cradles. Babywearing remained popular, however, since most mothers continued to breastfeed. But the parent-child relationship became even further distanced with the introduction of the first stroller in 1733. Essentially a basket on wheels, this luxury item was designed to be pulled by a goat or a pony; it wasn’t until the addition of handles in 1848 that it could be pushed like a modern-day stroller. By 1920, strollers were accessible to all. By 1950, babywearing (which some considered coddling) was seen as potentially harmful to a child’s development.
A return to natural parenting
Research in the 80s shed light on the importance of physical contact in a child’s development, especially his neurodevelopment. Babywearing has since experienced something of a renaissance, with more and more parents choosing to carry their babies and keep them close.
Babywearing and other options today
While today’s market is crowded with increasingly flexible, evolutive, innovative and connected options for child transport—everything from slings and strollers to car seats, bike seats and more—not all options are practical, ergonomic or even all that comfortable. But one thing remains unchanged: babywearing is a natural choice that supports a child’s development and strengthens the parent-child relationship.